The Copenhagen Climate Summit has come and gone. World leaders have returned to their respective countries with their pressing priorities. You would think the low rumble of the Summit has gone dormant again, but look behind you. Consumers are not only thinking green, but beginning to take “green” actions. President Obama has pledged to help utilities install 40 million smart energy meters so that consumers can take real-time actions to reduce unnecessary energy usage. Consumers, like you and me, will soon have “energy intelligence” (a term coined by Information Management’s Robert Farris). So how do businesses get energy intelligence?

Businesses are being asked not only to cut costs, but to do so especially in the area of energy usage, demonstrating they are doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint and take advantage of PR benefits of being “green.” Stakeholders, including customers, investors, and regulators, are now expecting it.

Energy costs in business average around 10% of the operating expense budget. It’s a number that the Dept. of Energy says could be reduced as much as 27% with the right techniques—decision support and operational efficiencies. It’s the classic performance management scenario: getting visibility so you can take action.

Sure, you can review your energy bills, but those are as much as 30 days old and don’t usually give you the level of detail needed to make appropriate changes. Even better, you could monitor the facility management systems used to track the usage and health of your heating/cooling, lighting, and water systems. Still not enough to make the right decisions. Were there one or 100 employees in the building that day? That information may be in another system like HR or security.

This is where Robert Farris’s post on Energy Intelligence suggests a business intelligence approach. He states it so eloquently in his post:

An energy intelligence system can integrate data from islands of energy usage information (building management systems, building sensors, utilities, etc.) and combine it with other operational data from your enterprise applications (supply chain, manufacturing, HR, finance, customer relationship management, asset management, etc.) to provide visibility to trends in usage, costs and efficiencies – across all locations, sub-locations, and building systems.

By bringing this information together in one place and providing BI capabilities – trending graphs, dashboards, near real-time monitors, exception alerts, location-comparison reports and detailed analysis capabilities – an Energy Intelligence system can help company leaders understand where efficiencies are and help them make informed decisions about what actions will provide the most return.

With more and more companies creating a career path and C-level positions for sustainability leadership, business intelligence vendors and corporate BI teams need to step up and educate organizations about the use of performance management for energy intelligence.